New Year Wishes…


Welcome to that time of the year when all around you are making New Year’s resolutions, presumably designed to improve or fix the things that are wrong with themselves. Maybe you are doing the same. But, as you already know, change is difficult and most heartfelt resolutions have already broken down within 30 days of making the solemn vow and of the remaining 25% still holding fast to their promises, only 8% actually succeed. Pretty pitiful, wouldn’t you agree? How can you succeed with such poor odds? Are you really broken and in need of repair? Are the plans you’ve made really resolutions or are they just wishes; New Year’s wishes?

Most of us, because of the world we live in, are beseiged with thoughts concerning what is wrong with us. We’re consumed with images of tremendously fit, sexy human beings and the thousandfold ways they got there, all available to us for just $19.99. We are all abundantly clear regarding our excesses and observe with painful recognition things we need to better control. We watch reality shows of people who are very wealthy, working very little yet enjoying lavish vacations and spur of the moment trips across the globe. And all of these things, multiplied out indefinitely, serve to sort of beat us into submission concerning our own lives, leaving us frustrated and anxious to secure all of the things we lack, whether it be a flat belly and skinny jeans or disciplined control of ourselves and our decisions or untold financial resources promising us freedom from all that ails us. In short, somebody has gotten our number and discovered a method to keep us forever bound.

The first part of actually making a change is to determine your true starting point or maybe better, to be honest about the things you truly want in your life as opposed to the things you don’t want. Do you really want to look like that sultry, slim celebrity or do you just want to stop wearing jeans that cut off your circulation? Are you swearing off wine forever or do you just need to find a way to consume less than a bottle a night or three a night every Friday and Saturday? Do you truly need millions of dollars and yachts and cars and houses or do you just need enough to be able to say yes much more often than you say no? (I have often thought if most people had $50,000 in their checking account for discretionary purposes, they would actually feel rich). I digress… The most important benefit of being honest is to determine what is driving your decisions. What is it that you are really after? You think that millions of dollars will totally fix your life, but it wouldn’t. Instead it would fix the things that involve money, but do nothing for your poor health, your crappy relationships, your lack of purpose and fulfillment. Being super slim and fit would greatly help your health and longevity, but would not guarantee your happiness. Even controlling yourself, one of the greatest things you could learn to master, would not last long without a compelling “why…” Begin your plans with what is most important to you personally for all of your own reasons, not those forced upon you by the world!

In order to change something you have to do something. Quitting smoking is easy as long as it’s not today. Writing a book maybe exciting and rewarding, but you have to take the time to actually write it. Losing weight has tremendous benefits both in terms of your health and how you feel about yourself, but you have to be prepared to do the actual work for a considerable amount of time until you reach your goal. The reason most people’s New Year’s resolutions don’t work is because they are really wishes. Wishes, like daydreaming, are pleasant and make us feel good. They offer us a promise of a better tomorrow, but they are always tomorrow. They are thoughts without actions. They are plans without effort. They are guaranteed to result in failure because they are not accompanied by any work. Anything worth having has some element of work involved with it. However, we defeat ourselves by envisioning all of the work on the front end and get discouraged before we even begin. We want a quick fix; a winning lottery ticket, a medication that makes us control ourselves and our minds, a dieting technique that if followed guarantees our success with very little determination of our own. We just do not want to do the work! We fail to consider that the only time we must supply the necessary effort towards our goals is today! Gather and focus all of your energy upon today. There is sufficient time to do all that you “need” to do today.

One of the most common tripping points for human beings is to think anything can move without action. You pray and pray and pray for more money, but do nothing to find out how to get it, then get it. You wish and wish and wish to be slim and healthy, but cave-in every time someone brings in something that tastes good, promising to start again tomorrow. You hope and hope and hope for a better future; a better year, yet fail to do something about it today to change something that made this year suck! You see, your life is under your control, even amidst many twists and turns. You can get anywhere you want to get if you are willing to put forth some effort. Wishing for a better life; a better experience, while being unwilling to do anything or change anything is the definition of futility. Change is not found in grand life-changing experiences, new calendar years, in sudden stunning moments of clarity and inspiration. Change is not secured by sticking to your plans perfectly with tremendous, newfound energy and discipline. Change is at last discovered in daily faithfulness; by you sticking to whatever you have determined for yourself day in and day out. Sure you are going to eat a whole pizza, polish off an entire box of wine, go down the exact same stupid paths you swore you would never tread down again! Absolutely you are going to trip and stumble and sometimes fall. But, you get your ass back up and get back after your plan! Anything you do faithfully, though you screw it up a hundred times, is going to result in change for you. It has to because you have supplied the effort and continue to supply it.

I, like you, have some definite plans for this New Year, not so artfully disguised in some earlier paragraphs. But, this year, by God, I’m going to supply some effort and stop kidding myself with empty wishes. Whether I do it perfectly or not; whether I have some low energy days or not; whether I lose track for a few days or not; whether I completely fall off the wagon or not, I plan to get there and I plan to do it by being faithful. The beautiful in life, the accomplishment, the fulfillment comes not from having it all figured out, but by staying faithful to the One that does. Day by day, do what you need to do! Discover for yourself the joy that follows control; control of your own life and actions and results.

So, my dear friends, whether you be fluffy or thin, prosperous or struggling, bored or enthusiastic, make a plan you can take action on every day. If you blow it start again. If you did nothing yesterday, do something today. If the journey feels too long or impossible, move ahead knowing this, God will reward your efforts with results as you remain faithful to what you know is His best for your life! Where do you think those good ideas come from anyway? You got this!

Just some good thoughts for 2020…

All I Want for Christmas is Love…


Christmas and the holidays in general bring back fond memories of times gone past; times filled with love and happiness and joy. It reminds us of the warm times we spent with our families; times when the people we ran into had a little more love, a little more kindness in their hearts. And yet for others, the holidays sometimes trigger sad feelings of loss and memories of loved ones who are no longer around. Or, they remind us of a better time; a time when things were simple and our lives were going the way we wanted them to go before we grew up and had to face a world that wasn’t always on our side. Whether our memories are pleasant or painful, what we all really want for Christmas is love…

We can all remember those precious times when we were young when we excitedly anticipated the big day when the mythical Santa came to visit and brought us the things that made us happy. Those days were all about ourselves and we didn’t take time to consider that someone was behind the scenes diligently attending to our happiness. We were completely unaware of the sacrifices someone was making to buy us the thing they really couldn’t afford or how many stores they searched to locate the last remaining big hit, popular thing that every child had to have. And why did they go to all of the trouble? They did it simply to bless us. They did it for the smile on our faces. They did it out of pure, unconditional love…

Flash forward thirty years and now we find ourselves the ones responsible for manufacturing the joy. Now, we are the ones expending the effort, carefully planning for the big day, worrying that maybe we missed something or that maybe someone didn’t get enough. And although we love a nice gift like anyone else, our real joy was found in the giving. Our true expression of love; indeed any expression of love always involves giving. And so we gave out of the love in our hearts and revelled in the joy that followed. Nothing brings a parent or a grandparent as much happiness as the happiness on the faces of those little ones. And in giving we found out what Christmas was all about. We learned that it is more blessed to give than to receive. And all that we gave, we gave out of love.

But, as we grew older with a few years under our belts and we no longer had to get up at 5:00 in the morning, we began to see a greater lesson. When our family starts to show up at our house with their parcels and merriment, excitedly bustling around, talking more loudly than usual with laughter abounding, we look at their smiling faces and we finally get it. These precious people, young and old, are what we really want. We treasure being around the people whom we love so dearly. We want to capture the moments forever. It’s the people, can’t you see it? It’s the love we share expressed in mutual smiles and warmth in our hearts. It’s the touch on someone’s shoulder or the clasp of a hand. It’s the laughter and goodness that follows our close associations. It’s the hugs and the tenderness of families and friends that is expressed in mutual affection. It’s your love and their love and shared love! It’s the love…

If you find yourself unhappy at this time of year, or just don’t seem able to capture the Christmas spirit, remember Christmas is just a day like any other day. It’s not magical or blessed, it’s just one day among many other days. The magic comes when you decide to stop making it about yourself; what you have and don’t have; what you’ve lost and where things went bad, but instead make it about someone else. We all feel that pang at times of simpler days long gone, but don’t let that discourage you. Living in this world, we all have access to other people, whether it be our family or our friends or that lonely lady who lives close by. So, you gather yourself up, set yourself aside for a minute, wipe the tears from your eyes and go love someone else. It’s not so important what you give, but that you give even if all you have to offer is some warmth and good intention from the heart. I think you’ll find that what everyone really wants for Christmas is love, love, love. Give love!

With the big day looming on the horizon, remember to give love. Whether you spent a fortune on someone special or made all your gifts yourself, what the people will fondly remember is your love. Our great God is a God of love and as such made His love the priority of our hearts; of all people’s hearts. Decide to love someone this Christmas. Decide to go out of your way to express that kindness and love. Get along with the difficult ones and give the sour ones a heartfelt pass. Love someone else with all that you are and see for yourself how wonderful love is. God is love. All I want for Christmas is love…

Just some good thoughts…

Turn Your Focus Outward…


With so many people engaged in the pursuit of happiness, there is one principle that is absolutely sure. When your focus is yourself, you end up looking at yourself, dwelling on yourself, evaluating yourself and comparing yourself to others. And, the happiness you so ardently sought slips away imperceptibly, leaving you alone with yourself and miserable. When your focus is for others and what you can do to help them, your own happiness follows like your own shadow sure…

One of the greatest dichotomies in life is that when you seek yourself, your own self loses out. The more you study yourself, evaluate yourself and look within, the more you see your flaws, your imperfections, your foibles and your foolishness. And, in so doing, your confidence in yourself falters. Your focus is wrong. You’ve been tricked into trying to do what you need to do to be happy, not realizing that true happiness is found in what you can do for someone else. This is not to say that you cannot have dreams and goals or that you cannot pay attention to getting your own needs met, but rather, those things cannot be allowed to occupy your entire focus.

God’s grand design of life is very simple. He envisioned that you would rely on Him to supply all of your needs. In so doing and so trusting, you would be free to help your fellow man. The error behind self-focus is that you become the center of your own life and as such have to find out how to meet all of your own needs. You have to foolishly take on the role of being the God of your own life, minus all of the power, ability and love. Add to that not being able to see the future and you’ll find yourself in a precarious position. You want to be happy and Lord knows it has been a major focus in your life, so it behooves you try something new. Turn your focus outward…

Most Christians, and I do mean most Christians, find themselves in this situation, though by very different means. The believer has a heart for God and as such wants to do the things that please Him. However, they fail to recognize their spiritual opponent, also called the accuser, who accuses them night and day. In that accusation, he reminds them of God’s perfection and His perfect Word and then how they aren’t living up to that Word. He boldly and subtly points out their imperfections and where they come up short. And, instead of remembering to live their lives according to the accomplishments of another man (Jesus Christ) they try in vain to measure up on their own. They forget the “finished” work of Jesus Christ and add their own works of righteousness to be righteous before God. And, the harder they try, the more they come up short. They end up living their lives in perpetual condemnation, striving day by day to make their imperfect flesh perfect before Him. They cannot live for even five minutes without thinking about something they did wrong. Unknown to them, their focus is turned inward more and more, day by day, as they grow weaker and more miserable. They painfully recount all of their past moments, dwelling in and living out every failure, every misstep, every fault. Their solution isn’t more striving to be good, but rather to accept their Savior’s work; get out of their own head and help somebody else.

Have you ever noticed that the more you turn your focus inward, the more troubles you find? The longer you focus on something not working right in your body, the more negative things appear to focus on. The more you dwell on yourself, your situation, your life, the more your mind fills with petty worries and injuries and slights. The harder you press to get your own needs met, the more unmet needs you discover. But conversely, the less attention you pay to the so-called ills in your body, the better your body feels. The less you dwell on yourself and what you don’t have in your life or haven’t accomplished or haven’t yet acquired, the more things you have to be thankful for; the more you can accomplish, the more abundance flows in your direction. Life was not intended as a contest for you to get all of your own needs met, but rather an opportunity to help others get all of their needs met, ending in not only your own needs being supplied abundantly, but a sublime sense of happiness that does not go away!

You, my weary friend, must learn how to get the focus off yourself and onto other people. Listen with your heart to what people are saying to you. Understand how they communicate their pain and find ways to alleviate that pain. Ask yourself what you can do to help them or make their life a little easier. Offer them good words and hope and encouragement and love. Give them your whole, undivided self with nothing held in reserve for yourself. Bless them and be willing to make your own needs secondary and see if our great God will not only bless you with abundance, but with a peace and enduring sense of love and joy that never fails. Turn your focus outward and see how quickly things turn around for you…

Just some good thoughts…

Striving Above Negativity…


No matter how gloomy the day is, above it all the sun still shines faithful and sure. In similar fashion, no matter how gloomy our minds feel, no matter what circumstances we are facing, no matter how things appear to our senses minds, we must continue to strive until the sun reappears faithful and sure.

The world lives and thrives on negativity. The systems of the world have all been craftily designed to submerge us in negativity. Whether it be the news reports or any number of the fear crazed people of the world, our primary job is to endeavor to live above it. If we acquiesce to what things look like or if we hang on the sincere words of the so-called experts, we will find ourselves miserable and defeated. Life is not good because it always seems so, but rather because we know the goodness and blessings are there, despite what things appear to be. We aren’t defeated until we accept the forecast. Don’t accept the forecast.

What happens in your life, whether it be good or bad, happens because of the things you choose to believe. You decide what it is you will and will not believe. However, your beliefs must be founded upon something true. To base your beliefs and actions on the appearance of things leads only to being blown about by every wind of doctrine! Sadly, this is exactly how most people live. If the world says it is hard to find a job that pays good money, thus believing the people settle for less money. If the news report predicts tough times ahead, expecting so the people anticipate difficulties and find them. If the doctors and scientists say this activity leads to this disease, people curtail the activity and still get the disease. You simply cannot believe everything that you hear! Health and prosperity come from God and the truth has no caveats or exceptions.

The problem with negativity is that it fashions and forms your expectations. Being negative, with the rest of the huddled masses, leads you down a predictable path that always ends in defeat. Just as nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing can come from negatives but more things to be negative about. You can’t keep wrapping your mind in darkness then wonder why you can’t see what’s going on. You aren’t being realistic or responsible or whatever other rationalization you’ve been talked into using! But instead, you are simply being deceived. You have become a cooperator with ignorance, working against your own best interest under the guise of being “realistic” or in today’s terms, “real!” What is real or actual or true is what God says is real and actual and true. To consider otherwise is to slide down the same greased path with the rest of mankind to your own destruction, hurt and loss.

Positivity isn’t fanciful or foolish or whim. Positivity is the basis on which your whole life has been conceived. What is foolish is to look around and draw wrong conclusions based on appearances. I can tell you this with all certainty and confidence, the things that mean the most to you, those aspects of life wherein you seek success, will never look as if you are about to get them until you actually overcome and get them! This is the contest and the mystery of life. The whole world lives and suffers amidst frustration because of their learned negativity! Being positive; being determined to think positively, expecting the best no matter appearances is the very portals of heaven lived upon the earth in the moments of your life right now.

In order to be a positive person you must strive. You have to fight for what is right. You have to contend in order to get the things God wants for your life. If you had no spiritual opponent, the things you ardently seek would come to you easily, effortlessly. All that you pursued would turn into gold with limited effort on your part. However, you do have an opponent and the way he steals from you is by convincing you of things that aren’t true. He sours your disposition and leaves you cynical and bitter. Through the systemization of error, he makes the right ways seem wrong and the wrong ways seem right. He convinces you that your attitude, though negative, is proper and fitting given the circumstances that surround you. He persuades you to expect the worst and even when good happens to view it tentatively as fleeting and bound not to last. Add to that all manner of superstition and rituals that mean nothing and do nothing to preserve your happiness. Yet on you go, knocking on wood and modifying your expectations, hoping good things will last and bad things will stay away.

The only sure way to secure your own happiness and refute negativity is to determine in yourself to be a positive person. People flock towards a positive person like they seek out the sun. Drowning in negatives, people need good words and good deeds to restore their beliefs. They need an alternate viewpoint. In continuing to be positive, not ignorant but positive, you set a pattern for the things you do want in your life which serve to root out the things you don’t want in your life. Just as a room doesn’t become fresh until you freely admit air and sunshine into the room, your mind won’t become fresh and alive until you admit sunny thoughts and blessed expectations into it. Life works out better for the positive person, not because everything always goes well, but becuase despite what is going on now, in the end it will all be well.

Whatever storm you find yourself besieged by, know this, above the clouds of doom and despair the sun is still shining, ever shining for you as you strive against the negativity and find the Love and Goodness that has always existed for you…

Just some good thoughts…

How to Get Back Your Tender Heart…


The number one reason people feel unhappy and unfulfilled in their lives is due to hardness of heart. Hardness of heart is subtle in that when your heart has gotten hard you are no longer aware of it, much like a callous on your hand. You can no longer discern you are getting poked! Today we focus on what you can do to get back your tender heart. I say back because your heart started out very tender, like the heart of a child, but the world and circumstances, disappointments and failures, as well as error believed then practiced rendered your heart hard and lacking feeling. It left you desensitized and numb to the true realities of life; those realities God wants you to experience. So, how can you get back your tender heart?

If you strip away all of the trimmings; get beyond all external appearances; get down to the very heart of things, all of us are the same. And although people are as varied and unique as the stars in the sky in multitude, we all want the same things. We all need love and acceptance; to belong and to feel needed. We have similar fears and dreads as well as similar aspirations for good health and prosperity. We all seek to get our needs met and the needs of those we love. Keeping this in mind is a good starting point for maintaining a tender heart. No matter how someone appears to be, whether abrasive and apparently heartless, aggressive and inflammatory, behind the facade is a scared, helpless person. At any given moment in time, all you may be exposed to is a version of that person, completely dependent upon where that person is coming from at any given time. Fear, which is error (also called sin or literally a stepping aside), is the number one hardener of your heart. Fear attempts to puff you up with a foolish disregard for things or people in an effort to protect you. Fear stops you from displaying the kindness and tenderness that is inherent inside. Fear of rejection or fear of not fitting in with the group leads you to all sorts of things that aren’t really you at all. Getting rid of fear with all of its associated lies is the first place to go to get back your tender heart. There was a time when you weren’t afraid of everything, that is until someone or some people taught you otherwise. Fear is a lie and like every lie believed, hardens your heart. Get rid of your fear…

Error in its most basic essence is the polar opposite of truth. The only sure way to discern truth from error is to know and understand God’s heart for His people, which can be found in His Word. Error, though almost always appealing, carries within it the seeds of error that damage and corrupt the vessel. Something can look good and feel good; be completely accepted by society, but if it’s basic essence is based on error it will only serve to hurt you. It will degrade and blunt your sharpness leading to more error and more heartache. All of us succumb to error in one capacity or another, but what matters most is what is in our hearts. Your heart will always respond favorably to goodness, to kindness, to love. And accordingly, your heart will always respond negatively to evil; to those being mean-spirited, to hatred. Thus your responsibility is to make love your basic response. As a great man once said, “Love sees more but is willing to see less.” Love covers a multitude of sins, because love comes from your heart. You want your heart to be more tender? Give people love! Bathe them in it. Love anyway… Practice kindness with absolutely no fear of a lack of repayment. Be tender in your approach and don’t reserve that tenderness solely for your children or grandchildren. If you think that through a little, the reason we can be tender with a child is because we have no fear of our love being rejected. Well, here’s a newsflash, no matter how that adult responded or how they behaved in the moment, they appreciated your expression of love at least as much as that child did. Trust me on that one. You want a tender heart, give out love to everyone. Once you know something is error, get rid of it. Love is at the basis of every good thing, so get rid of error and live love…

So let’s be honest with each other now. The reason your heart has gotten hard is because you have been damaged. You’re not weak or too sensitive, as many would purport, but rather, living in the world today, chances are you have been assaulted many times by an enemy you can neither see nor discern. You have been assailed often unfairly by a system setup to hurt you and break you down. Your adversary seeks only to steal from you and as such he steals away your happiness, your tenderheartedness, your true feelings of love and compassion and he does so because he hates God and all that is associated with God. God isn’t your problem ever, but his opponent is. Thus what you need most is God’s healing. You need Him to right the ship. You need God to make your crooked places straight. You need God to heal your broken heart. God is able to restore your heart and teach you how to feel again. You need God’s unconditional love. You need to know in His sight you are worthy and worth something, not because of what you do, but because of what He did for you. God and God alone can restore your heart and make life worth living again. God can open the eyes of your heart to the greater realities of life and make your path clear and obvious. Then, filled with His love and goodness, you can reach out and help all those other poor souls suffering and navigating a miserable existence. You want your tender heart back, get God’s healing for your life…

A tender heart is the best kind of heart. Get yours back my friends…

Just some good thoughts…